fb-pixel Skip to main content

Lawrence teen convicted of first-degree murder in classmate’s beheading

Mathew Borges listened in Salem Superior Court on Monday morning during his trial.Ryan Hutton/Pool/Pool

SALEM — A Lawrence teenager was found guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday for killing and beheading a high school classmate in what prosecutors described as a jealous rage over a girl.

After a day of deliberations, a jury of five women and seven men convicted Mathew Borges, 18, of fatally stabbing Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, 16, in November 2016.

Borges showed no emotion as the verdict was read, while some of Viloria-Paulino’s family and friends cried quietly. They declined to speak to reporters as they left the courthouse.

“Nothing can bring Lee Paulino back to his family, who obviously love and miss him very much,” Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett said in a statement. “It is my hope that this verdict gives them some comfort and peace.”


Borges faces a life sentence with the possibility of parole because he was 15 when he committed the crime. He will be sentenced on July 9.

Borges’s lawyer, Edward Hayden, said Borges didn’t say much to him after the verdict but asked him to call his mother. Borges’s parents did not come to court because they wanted to avoid publicity, Hayden said.

“She [Borges’ mother] has been in close contact with me every day throughout the day, and she cares deeply about her son, as well as his father,” Hayden said. “They just did not want to be here.”

First-degree murder convictions in Massachusetts are automatically appealed, Hayden said.

Viloria-Paulino went missing on Nov. 18, 2016. Surveillance cameras captured him and Borges leaving Viloria-Paulino’s home on Forest Street in Lawrence, then walking toward the banks of the Merrimack River.

Prosecutors said they believe Borges stabbed Viloria-Paulino to death, then cut off his head and hands to try and make him harder to identify. A woman walking her dog along the river found his body on Dec. 1, 2016.


In closing arguments, prosecutors pointed to messages Borges had written to a girl in his class that he liked. He accused her of having a secret relationship with Viloria-Paulino and acknowledged he was jealous.

“I want you, but I’m thinking about all the guy friends you have. I won’t be able to deal with that. I’m too much of a jealous person,” Borges wrote the girl on Nov. 8, 2016. “I get jealous now, imagine if we were together.”

Borges also talked about wanting to take another person’s life, prosecutors said.

“I think of killing someone n I smerk , [sic.] I like the sound of it, the idea of causing pain on someone who’s getting in my way or who’s causing me pain,” Borges wrote on Nov. 6, 2016.

Borges also told her he thought people’s eyes changed when they killed someone.

“Take a good look at my eyes the next time we talk cuz that’s the last time ur gna see them like that ever again,” Borges wrote on Nov. 17, 2016. “I know what I’m going to do and I can’t do anything about it. People will notice a big difference in me once my eyes turn dead.”

The next day, Viloria-Paulino went missing.

Jurors heard two weeks of testimony from teenagers who were friends with Viloria-Paulino and Borges, cell tower specialists, and medical examiners. They deliberated for about eight hours before they reached a verdict.

Borges did not testify during the two-week trial. Borges’s lawyer said there was no physical evidence tying him to the crime and that witnesses for the prosecution lied.


Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at gal.lotan@globe.com.